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Getting-Along-With-Your-Computer

Starting over

Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 include a helpful feature. When things are just too fouled up, you can practically start over.

And, when you need to get rid of a computer or just want to start over completely, you can do that, too.

Keep some of your stuff

You can get a fresh copy of Windows and keep all your files. When you do this, your settings, and all your programs and apps are going to be uninstalled.

Make sure you know the product keys or serial numbers for any third-party software you purchased.

For example, if you have a paid antivirus program, or Microsoft Office, or Adobe products, you’re going to need to reinstall them, and you’re going to need the keys that unlock the paid version.

Have those before you start this process.

And, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Even though Windows promises you it will keep your files, you should have a backup of your important files.

Trust me.

All set?

In Windows 10:

  • Make sure you are signed in with an Administrator account
  • Click on Start | Settings (the gear icon) |Update and security | Recovery
  • Under Reset this PC, click Get Started
  • Click on Keep my files
  • Follow the prompts

When the process finishes, sign in and start reinstalling and activating your software. Check that your files are where they belong.

In Windows 8.1:

  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, or use your mouse to point to the top right corner of the screen
  • Tap or click on Settings | Change PC settings | Update and recovery | Recovery
  • Under the Refresh your PC without affecting your files, tap or click on Get started
  • Follow the prompts
  • When the process finishes, sign in and start reinstalling and activating your software. Check that your files are where they belong.

Start over from scratch

You can absolutely remove all data, programs, apps, settings, network settings and everything else except a fresh version of Windows if you want to.

Why would you want to?

  • If you’re giving away or selling your PC, you want it working like new, but without any of your information or settings or programs on it.
  • Something bad happened, and you can’t find any other way to fix it besides starting over

When you do this, all your files and settings, and all your programs and apps are going to be uninstalled.

You’ll have nothing left, but Windows itself and the built-in apps for Windows. Be sure you make a backup of your files, and make sure you know the product keys or serial numbers for any third-party software you purchased.

In Windows 10:

  • Make sure you are signed in with an Administrator account
  • Click on Start | Settings (the gear icon) |Update and security | Recovery
  • Under Reset this PC, click Get Started
  • Click on Remove everything
  • Follow the prompts

Time will pass, probably slowly. Eventually the computer will reboot to the first setup screen for Windows 10.

In Windows 8.1:

  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, or use your mouse to point to the top right corner of the screen
  • Tap or click on Settings | Change PC settings | Update and recovery | Recovery
  • Under the Remove everything and reinstall Windows, tap or click on Get started
  • Follow the prompts

Time will pass, probably slowly. Eventually the computer will reboot to the first setup screen for Windows 8.1.

If you’re getting rid of the computer, it’s safe to do that now.

If you’re going to keep the computer, now is the time to reinstall and reactivate all your software and restore your important files from your backup to their proper locations in your new system.

Have you ever done a refresh or reset in Windows 8.1 or Windows 10?

Did you get the results you hoped for?

Send your stories from the trenches to me at help@computercarekelowna.com.



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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at help@computercarekelowna.com with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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